As I See It
BY ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO
Sharon K. Estioko, known as Mrs. E to the neighborhood kids and her local church youth group (now all grown-ups numbering about 75), passed away yesterday (June 3, 2019) at about 11:00 p.m., i.e. an hour before midnight of June 4. She died at the age of 75.
She and her husband Mr. E, who is my elder brother Orlando, 74, were in charge of the youth ministry of Our Lady of Peace (OLP) for many years. They mentored, grew with the kids, and spent a lot of memories with them from camping to fishing, hiking treks, going to beaches (Sta. Cruz Boardwalk), watching movies, experiencing the Moaning Cavern, visiting the parks, doing spelunking, and attending to weekend escapades exploring nature and beautiful spots in California.
I remember during our first two years here in the US as immigrants, i.e. 1998 to 1999, she introduced us to camping (we camped in Santa Cruz’s Big Basin twice), experienced rock-cod fishing in Monterey, went to Disneyland, drove to Lake Tahoe, and visited many other tourist spots showing my family how the West looks like and us experiencing life in the US. At that time, my youngest Paul was 4 ½ years old (he is now 26) and my eldest Jojo was 17 (now 38, happily married to Alvi with their two kids Kayla, 15, and Bibay, 13, from Jacksonville, Florida).
My wife Del and I brought 5 of our 6 children to the US. My eldest Gigi was left in the Philippines because she was already over 21 years old when our visa to the US arrived (she is now 44 and already a citizen of Sydney, Australia happily married to her husband Eric). The rest of the children, Rose/Tweety, is now 27, married to Jonathan and are living in Oahu, Hawaii; Jayson, 29; and May, 33. Sharon shaped our children’s minds and built memories with them, just like the youth groups she and my brother mentored for many years.
Mrs. E is an Irish Catholic married to my brother for 51 years. From birth, she have been with severe chronic anemia due to an AV Malformation Dysplasia (AVM). It is an incurable blood disease characterized by slow and steady internal bleeding remedied only by constant blood transfusions for survival. “Aware of my health, I thought I will just be a nun because I can’t get married and bear a child. I would be of great burden, physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially to my husband, forever,” she said.
I remember her telling me in one of our conversations that when she was young, she had no plans of getting married. “When I was 16, I made a deal with God with a wish to become a nun. With my poor health, however, I told Him to freely direct me to my vocation…
Eight years later, I was blessed with an awesome prophecy that was fulfilled, not as a nun, but as a woman married to a Pinoy…”
“In my prophecy,” she continued, “I overheard Him say: If you were to get married, your future husband would come from a faraway country. True enough, Orlando, a gentleman from the Philippines, came to Seattle where I am originally from. We got acquainted and were engaged for five weeks. I told him my situation but he told me not to worry because he actually prayed to marry a very sickly lady to take care of. One might think that this guy is either crazy or a hero, but anyhow, I believed in him. We got married on June 28, 1908.”
They had a dramatic beginning as a married couple and learned each other’s culture daily. “On Sundays, Orlando would take me to watch Filipino movies. Oh how I love Dolphy, the “King of Filipino Movies”! I could have died laughing and chocking for hours. Those movies introduced me to the rich Filipino culture where I enjoy every aspect of it. I learned that if you marry a Filipino, you marry the whole culture, too!”
She again told me in one of our conversations, “I subscribe to a Filipino Channel (TFC) where I spend most of my leisure time.
Sometimes while watching, my husband starts talking Tagalog to me, unaware that I could not speak the language, so we laugh together. Speaking about culture, I eat puto, I learned how to cook pansit, lumpia, adobo, and also steam rice. This is the best I can do to satisfy Orlando’s craving for food which is endless,” she narrated.
She is survived by my brother Orlando, 74; their only child Terry, 46, who is married to Paula and with their two children: Brandon, 5 and Olivia, 2.
My brother Orlando, Sharon’s husband, is the 9th of 13 children. I am the 11th! All of us siblings were raised by my dad Marciano Sr. and my mom Leonor in an atmosphere of love and the importance of the family. Our family was once awarded the Model Family of the Year in Urdaneta City during the town fiesta.
“I am proud to be an honorary Filipino by my marriage to a Filipino who was properly raised in a model Filipino family, and now surrounded by countless model families that sprang from it,” Sharon commented.
My children, so with the rest of the youth she mentored, will never forget her. She was mom to all of them and was always there for them whenever she is needed. She loves children and Mrs. E was acknowledged as the youth-mom!
Mrs. E, we lost you… but you will always be with us! Your memories will always linger in our minds, your teachings will always be ingrained in our hearts, and we will remember you forever!
You made a difference in our lives!
(Elpidio R. Estioko was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and an award-winning journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email author at email@example.com).